Hot Water Line

We’ve been tending to a sick baby, so there hasn’t been much time to work on the house. The time I have found has been split among a number of things which makes for small progress. The ever present basement demolition makes the top of the list. I gave my friend Dean a tour of the basement and he lent his sweat soldering tools and skills to a pressing problem: disconnecting the basement supply plumbing. The plumbing runs through the center wall which will be take out to replace the main beam and columns. Getting it disconnected is the first step in removing it.

The basement supply plumbing is copper, while most of the rest is galvanized steel pipe. The hot water had been tapped off of a line that was originally for the laundry. Because we’ll be putting the laundry back in the basement at some point, we needed to disconnect the branches to the basement kitchen and bathroom while leaving the laundry connected. There was a cutoff valve that should have made this easy, but even closed all the way, water was still coming through. I wound up shutting off the whole water heater, which services the second floor. Once that was done, Dean was able to cap these two branches.

Cold Water Line

The cold water line looked simpler but was quite a bit more problematic. Again there was a shutoff valve, and again it didn’t completely stop the water. I vowed to use nothing but quarter-turn valves when I install the new plumbing. The next step was to turn off the water main to the house. Even so, there was still pressure. So we opened some faucets to drain the lines. Surely, now it should be fine? Of course not. This water line was tapped off the supply line to the steam boiler, which meant the low water cutoff valve on the boiler water feeder was opening and allowing water to flow back into the pipe! At this point Dean had a great idea: remove the whole valve. The other side of the cutoff valve we were capping was galvanized, which is threaded pipe. Some twists of the wrench later and we had removed the whole thing. Now, completely free, we were able to solder on the cap. A little plumber’s putty put the valve back on and we were done. The next step will be to pull all the now loose copper pipes out of the basement. I have a bit more electrical to pull out of the ceiling, and then I need to tackle the gas lines. Once that’s consolidated and re-routed I can finally take down the remaining drywall.

Floor Joists

The next thing I worked on was a bit of scouting and measuring, to ensure my floor plans are accurate. While the inspector had told me the floor joists supporting the second floor were 2×6, and the ones in the attic definitely were, I had acquired some doubts. A couple weeks ago I jumped up and down and judged the floor to be fairly stable considering that assumption. The only way to confirm was to rip a whole in the ceiling of the first floor and measure it. We already have a number of holes in the wall, so it was a pretty minor thing. The result was good news: the joists are 2×10! That means all of my concerns about sistering and reinforcing are for nothing. We can just add some better blocking.

Wall studs

I also measured the exterior wall studs. They’re 1 3/4″ thick and 3 3/4″ wide, which is thicker than today’s 2x4s, but not as big as I originally thought. Regardless, I’ve gone back to my floor plans to calculate accurate measurements once we add extra thickness to the exterior walls for better insulation. That work is still in progress, but I’ll share my revised floor plans when they’re ready. My house model is also coming along, in all its 3D fanciness. We’ve been looking at the extravagant examples on Houzz for inspiration on some of the details, and it’s coming along well.


3 Responses to Basement Demo: Plumbing

  1. Make sure you keep the (scrap) copper pipe out of site! Otherwise you may end up with people (scrappers) becoming interested to get into your basement… 😉

  2. Frank says:

    Hey Matt,
    Love the site. We just bought a house by the square and now we are getting ready for the renovation. Shoot me an email if you’d be interested in exchanging notes.


  3. Matt says:

    Thanks! Whenever I wonder aloud why we bought this crazy house, Sarah reminds me of how nice Logan Square is.

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